Viral TikTok shows how paralyzed pup is able to walk again thanks to doctors at Virginia Tech
BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - When everyone thought a young pup named Lily would never be able to walk again, she ran.
Veterinary specialists at Virginia Tech’s Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine used a 3D model of Lily’s spine to help her walk again.
The doctors made what people thought was impossible, possible---
“You know, you’re just happy that she was alive still,” said Allison ‘Ally’ Smith, Lily’s owner.
Lily’s owners, Allison and Olivia, say her spine was injured in an accident in May 2020.
Veterinarians where they lived in Northern Virginia said there was nothing they could do.
“We got her there and that was probably the most anxious I’ve ever been like in my entire life-- just waiting. I just, like, shoved her through the doors, like, to the vet doors, and was, like, just take her in. And we were just hysterical,” said Ally. “They took X-rays of her spine and saw that she had a fractured vertebra. And you know, right away they were kind of like, you know, we can’t do anything for this. This is way out of our league.”
The doctors instead referred them to veterinarian specialists at Virginia Tech.
Lily had a small chance of walking again, living a normal life. However, they had hope.
“Because fractures like this can be, you need the manpower, you need CT and MRI, so you need some kind of specialized equipment. And so that was something that we had here that they could hopefully, if that was appropriate, fix slowly so she could run along in the field,” said Dr. Avril Arendse, veterinary specialist at Virginia Tech.
“She had a deep pain response the whole time in her back legs and so we were told that that was really encouraging that she still had something in her back paws, so we kind of held on to that hope that, you know, maybe she would be okay,” said Ally.
However, Allison and Oliva had a big decision to make.
“Doctors said, you know, she can be medically managed. But she can also have surgery. So we were like, okay, and you know, if she’s medically managed she might be in pain the rest of her life. But if she has surgery she might die,” said Ally.
According to Ally, Lily had a 25% mortality rate and a 50/50 chance of being able to walk again.
“The thought of just losing her would just, it was so painful. But then we were like, what kind of life is that for her if she’s in pain every day? And because especially if we had the option to do something about it,” said Ally.
And they did do something about it; they went through with the surgery.
Dr. Averndse and a team of specialists at Virginia Tech created a 3D print model of Lily’s spine, showing the pins they had to install to fix the fracture. The doctors practiced the procedure using the 3D tools, MRI, and CT scan.
However, the procedure was risky. One wrong move, Lily’s life could change forever.
“We got her there and that was probably the most anxious I’ve ever been, like, in my entire life, just waiting,” said Ally.
Ally and Olivia said even though they were scared, they put their faith in the experts’ hands.
Now, six months later, they’re glad they took the chance. Lily can walk again.
“Maybe, she’s doing a little too much. But that’s okay. I’m glad she’s, I’m glad she feels as good as she does. So yeah, yeah, it makes me very happy,” said Dr. Arendse.
“We have to stop her. She’s like invincible; she just, it’s so funny to watch; you would just never be able to tell for sure,” said Ally.
Lily’s family says six months after the procedure, no one can tell she couldn’t walk or live in pain. All they see is a two-year-old pup--running to the beat of her own drum.
Ally and Olivia say they shared Lilly’s story online because they wanted to thank veterinarians for all they do.
Because they were the heroes in their story.
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